Jayveous McKinnis was the first player in the Ole Miss men’s basketball program to retire from the transfer portal, after wreaking havoc in the SWAC conference as a member of the Jackson State Tigers. He wouldn’t be the only Defensive Player of the Year the Rebels have brought in, like Myles Burns, Theo Akwuba and Josh Mballa later followed.
With this year’s roster on campus right now, there’s been some time to get a glimpse of how they’ll look wearing red and blue. So far it’s McKinnis who’s been turning heads, says his new head coach Kermit Davis.
“Jayveous McKinnis was one of our biggest surprises,” Davis told the media Tuesday. “He’s going to be one of the most athletic forwards in college basketball, period. He’s really starting to develop his skill level…spectacular around the circle, lobs and play behind defense, his overall approach to improving and what he does in the weight room. I was very pleased with Jay.”
With the addition of the three aforementioned transfers joining returning Robert Allen and Jaemyn Brakefield in the front yard, who knows what will happen or what the pecking order will look like at the time of the season. That said, there might be a guy for any given situation.
“We have a really big front yard, really athletic. We have older guys, so that helps,” Brakefield said Tuesday. “We have a good group of guys, fours and fives that are all pretty much positionless, I feel like a lot of guys can shoot the basketball, rebound it really well and fit in with this team.”
McKinnis is a 6-foot-7, 225-pound player from Brandon, Mississippi who finished second on the team with 12.2 points per game (56 percent from the floor) and also averaged 10.1 rebounds per game. game, which led the Tigers through the 2021-22 season. season. McKinnis also had a total of 77 blocks (68 more than the team’s second-most) and averaged 31 minutes per night. He scored a game-high 20 points last season against Louisiana Tech and also had as many as 16 rebounds against Grambling State.
He was part of a JSU team that finished 11-19 overall and 9-9 in SWAC play. The Tigers were dropped in the first round of the SWAC tournament, unable to draw an upset from the No. 2 seed Texas Southern due to a final score of 54-50. Now he’s tracked down a few other Rebs from the Jackson-Metro area to Brakefield and Daechun Ruffin.
“I saw Jayveous play at Jackson State a few times,” Ruffin said. “Proud of him coming, proud to be around him on campus. I saw him during my high school days. I fell in love with him back then. A very athletic kid back then, the is still now, doing all the little things defensively, blocking shots, rebounding, putting dunks back in place and stuff that fits my game well so we can help each other out When he came on his visit things just clicked I said to him, ‘me and you are going to do some big things.’ The pictures show that we can excel in this attack. It was great to see him, I did a lot of good things… He will be ready.
The Rebels will open the 2o22 season inside the SJB Pavilion against the Alcorn State Braves on Nov. 7. Either way, Inside The Rebels will be on hand to provide updates, notes, facts, observations and more.
“We’ll be a much more aggressive defensive team,” Davis said. “We will play 1-3-1. We haven’t worked on that yet, but it will be something we can do at a much higher level than last year. It will be deeper, more of an athletic team and physicality that can be really competitive outside of the conference and for sure in the SEC.”